That's the problem though... soon the only price will be retail, and you can be sure that MSRPs for your favorite gear isn't going to drop to compensate for this. While I'm sure the bulk-sales Optomas and Panasonics will continue to be inexpensive, the Yamahas and Marantzes will stay where they are. This benefits nobody but the manufacturers and retailers. The manufacturers are already protected--they can merely raise their wholesale prices to raise income. The retailers are taking a hit now but that's entirely their fault... now we're going to have to subsidize Best Buy's and Circuit City's horrible customer service policies. And at the same time, they're exploring ways to screw us all out of money with now-you-see-it-now-you-don't "rebates" and bait-and-switch tactics (like BB's in-store website snafu).
Normally this price-fixing ability would be a good thing. No more haggling or "state secret" pricing. If Panasonic says the AE1000 is going to sell for $3995, then it's going to sell for that at AVS, at Costco, at Visual Apex, at Best Buy, and at Joe's Bag O' Projectors.com.
That would be if
you could trust manufacturers, and since they won't even usually give us honest brightness readings, do you expect them to price their one-and-only-allowed price to be fair and competitive? Oh well, just buy from someone else except oops... they are priced high too. Buy from the internet? Nope, same (legally enforced) price. Orwell had it right, except it was 2024 not 1984. You'll pay one state-sponsored price for everything, and you will have one 'authorized' vendor for everything. The highest bidder becomes your one-and-only operating system manufacturer, your one-and-only digital music supplier, your one-and-only phone provider, etc...
This is just another step towards corporate government. There was a reason price-fixing had been illegal for 96 years. Now all they have to do is to revamp the patent system so that anything can be patented forever (first come, first serve, that pesky prior art thing becomes irrelevant), and change copyright laws so that everything costs a fee to use, even your own name.
Theoretically speaking, I can see where a court might find continual price drops between discounters and traditional retailers to be a threat to business, but for crying out loud.. that is competition.. it's capitalism! I'm disappointed in this but not surprised, given how quickly our rights and our foundations are being eroded everywhere.
I wonder how long it will be before those pesky online discounters are put out of business by the good guys (e.g. Best Buy, Sears, and all the other places that think giving you a product at MSRP is doing you a favor)?
Remember kids, internationally speaking price-fixing isn't a crime, and you can see how well price collusion works for consumers. OPEC is a shining example of how the system can work well... just don't ask who it's working well for.
At least we won't have to worry about trade wars since China and other bulk manufacturers will be able to finally destroy the major CE brands, given the bulk guys won't mind if their products are discounted and won't set fixed prices. I suppose we need to add a fourth economic system to the current list of communism, capitalism, and socialism: corporatism. It's like communism except the profits all go to the hands of the state companies and their executives.
In the end I guess this will all be meaningless, because just like DRM companies will find that they cannot fix a price without taking heavy losses from competitors that won't price fix. So this is another bad experiment courtesy of the usual corporate government bribes and influencing.
The only constant in life is that you cannot trust groups of people to do the right thing... ever.
(I mean it all with a